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Shaun Osher: Does Size Matter? Midtown Will Soon Find Out

core_shaunheadshotNew developments are always hot topic of conversation, and the past few days have been no different. Both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times ran stories about new residential developments in New York City, and the uniting theme is that smaller, boutique buildings — not the big guys — have a leg up right now. That’s mostly out of necessity. Like I told the New York Times, the hurdles that developers are facing include finding a development-ready site affordable enough to purchase, then financing a project’s acquisition and construction. Lenders are out there, but they are being significantly more picky about the margins they expect, and the developer who’s building the project.

But then again, this is New York City, and there will always be opportunities for projects to come along and change one of the world’s most famous skylines — and challenge pricing records. Even though there are more boutique projects being built, there are some larger projects in the pipeline.

One building that’s already a go is One57, a 90-story tower currently under construction on 57th Street near Central Park that developer Gary Barnett told the Times will command prices of $3,000-$7,000 per square foot. One57 will be the tallest residential building in the city, but that feather in its cap will be short-lived. I expect the building being developed on the former site of the Drake Hotel, on the east side of 57th Street at Park Avenue, will dwarf it dramatically. Then, of course, there’s the long-awaited, Jean Nouvel-designed “MoMA tower” being planned next to the Museum of Modern Art, which seems to complete the high-rise hat trick for the area. While Nouvel may be the best architect of the three sites, the location isn’t as good.

Boutique buildings shape the city’s streetscape as powerfully as the skyscrapers do, but the Midtown skyline has a future that seems to be filled with more immense towers. It will be interesting to see which one fares the best.

Shaun Osher is the founder and CEO of CORE.